Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Actor! Actor! . . . Author? Author?

Actor! Actor! . . . Author? Author?

by Kate Carroll

Actors turned singers, turned models, turned . . . authors? There are several names in Hollywood that have become associated with the world of literature, including well-known actors such as Steve Martin, Woody Allen, Carrie Fisher and, as a previous blog on this topic covered, Julie Andrews. Working at a bookstore has allowed me to discover a fair share of actor-authors, some presumably for PR purposes, but also many who actually work at the craft. Here are a few I was surprised to find have picked up a pen in between sets.

Viggo Mortensen: He’s played a horse whisperer, epically fought to protect a ring and is a published poet. Add artist, photographer and polyglot who is fluent in Spanish and Danish to his resume, and what can’t he do? Mortensen writes in all three languages and enjoys mixed media art, often combining his poetry with music. His book Coincidence of Memory, published in 2002, contains a mixture of nearly 25 years of his work.

Hugh Laurie: The world loves his bitter, sarcastic humor, so it should be no surprise that his 1996 novel The Gun Seller sold very well, resulting in even a few international printings. Fans long hoped for a sequel, which he finished over a decade later, but the title has yet to be released. Laurie has been praised for his ability to translate his on-screen comic genius into the novel format.

James Franco: I was very surprised when his short story collection, Palo Alto, came out in 2010. Some agree that this collection is a decent first try, but most believe Franco tries too hard to impress us with his stylistic choices, abandoning his characters along the way. Franco has also been published in Ploughshares, a literary magazine based at my alma mater, Emerson College. I read the entry “The Deer” at work one day; it wasn’t exactly my taste, but I respect someone who can bring to life both a trapped climber on screen and a troubled teen on page. Franco is currently pursuing his PhD in English from Yale.

Other names that might come as surprises when found on book covers include Chuck Norris, Julie Walters, Macaulay Culkin and John Travolta. Next time you’re in a bookstore, keep an eye out for some familiar names—odds are they’ll be set in larger text than the title.

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